Thursday, November 30, 2017

Manhattan Beach

If you like character-driven novels featuring strong, smart women, you might want to pick up Jennifer Egan's latest book, Manhattan Beach. We initially meet Anna Kerrigan as a spunky 12-year-old, accompanying her father Eddie to Manhattan Beach as he visits Dexter Styles, a wealthy man she doesn't know but assumes is connected to Eddie's job. Years later, Anna is a young woman living in Brooklyn with her mother and severely disabled sister as World War II breaks out. Her father has disappeared. To support the family, Anna gets a job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, one of those Rosie-the-Riveter factory type jobs, but her interest is piqued by her view from the factory floor--watching divers plunging into the depths to perform various ship repairs and tasks. After some perseverance and good luck, she becomes the Navy Yard's first female diver. Egan appears to have done quite a bit of research on this topic and time period, and the details of the cumbersome diving suit and the challenges facing divers make for fascinating reading. Although Anna loves her work and her small family, she is tortured by the absence of her father. When she runs into Dexter Styles at a local nightclub, she begins a relationship with him, to explore possible reasons for Eddie's sudden departure from his family. This takes her into the criminal underworld in which her father and Dexter Styles worked. Manhattan Beach combines historical fiction, crime fiction, suspense, and a war story into one big and boisterous book that was a pleasure to read. I loved Anna, and I think you will, too.

Kelly Currie

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